Promotion opportunity in the works? Don't ignore these 5 pieces of advice.
Most middle managers have been around long enough to know when a promotion opportunity might be in the works along their corporate development career path. One telltale sign in any organization is expansion. When a company expands, whether it’s geographically or in terms of its products/services, well-qualified managers are going to be needed to help drive this expansion. Another sign, albeit at a more departmental level, is that your boss is being promoted. In most organizations, the natural successor of a promoted boss is a member of the team they’ve managed until now.
So if you think you’re reading the “promotion map” accurately at your organization, what are some of the things you can do to cash in on a possible climb up the corporate ladder towards a smooth corporate development career path? I don’t profess to provide “cookie-cutter solutions,” but based on my 35+ years of experience helping middle managers achieve their dreams, consider some of the following advice:
1. Don’t wait for a promotion to take on more responsibility.
Many middle managers are frustrated by the fact that they essentially do their supervisor’s work, yet they aren’t recognized for it - either hierarchically or financially. Leave this attitude outside of the office. Instead, embrace the opportunity to learn more about your department and company. Volunteer to take on special projects or better yet, suggest some initiatives you think would provide added benefit to your organization. This will show not only initiative but also a managerial state of mind, so that when it comes time to promote a middle manager, you’re the natural choice.
2. Shadow your boss.
By shadowing your boss, I mean begin to notice their work day. What do they do? What do they think about? What pleases them? What worries them? The more you shadow your boss, the more you’ll develop the mindset of a boss. If you get to know your boss’s job well enough, you’ll be able to replace them during critical moments when the stakes are high. Such actions are usually recalled when it’s time to decide who gets promoted.
3. Plan your own career path.
Most middle managers are happy with their achievements so far. In order to get to your current position, you’ve been duly recognized for your talent and dedication to the company. There’s a sense that the company has taken care of you and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, once you reach the middle management level, this is less common. As the pyramid narrows towards the top, competition for senior positions becomes rough. So it’s up to you to decide how far you want to soar. The only way to make this happen is to first do some planning.
4. Be a manager outside of your organization.
In some cases, showing off your management potential isn’t possible inside your organization. Perhaps the organization has too few opportunities or maybe roles are tightly defined. In such cases, it’s important to develop your skills in other frameworks. For example, you might get involved in a professional or volunteer organization where you can both develop and demonstrate your managerial skills. Once you’ve been recognized, you can let decision makers at work know about your achievements. What’s important is that you communicate how the added value you’ve developed will benefit your organization.
5. Develop yourself on your own.
Too many successful middle managers are still stuck in an entry-level mentality when it comes to professional development. When you joined the company, you were sent to training seminars ranging from company-specific policies and procedures to professional courses in your particular discipline. At that point in your career, your company took responsibility for your development. Now that you’re an “expert,” your organization might not see the need to train you further. But this doesn’t mean it’s not a necessary part of your climbing the corporate ladder! On the contrary, there’s so much you still have to learn to be a senior manager. So don’t wait for your boss to offer you a course - find one and do it on your own.
In today’s rapidly changing economy, companies are opening, expanding, contracting, closing, merging, etc. constantly. While many middle managers will see this movement as threatening, others will hone the opportunities that come with such changes. If you are excited about the opportunities, prepare yourself now so that you’ll be in the best position possible to be promoted when the time comes.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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